Lies and Hypocrisy Over Asylum Attack

 

Witness the rank British duplicity and hypocrisy as various public figures respond to the mob assault on a blameless teenager on a street in Croydon, outer London. Rekar Ahmed, a 17 year old asylum seeker was at a bus top opposite a pub with two friends when they were allegedly set upon by around 30 people.  Oh my. The great and the good can’t believe it happened. They are truly ‘appalled’, terribly ‘outraged’. This just isn’t very British. Maybe Croydon is a badland; the assailants must be ill bred ruffians . Have these moralists been asleep for the past few years? Do they not know anti-migrant feelings are spreading through all classes and some minorities too,  like a wild fire in a dry forest? They do know. This is fake shock and it is as bad (if not  worse) than the savage, unprovoked violence.

Remember Stephen Lawrence, killed by a gang in April 1993, as he and a friend were waiting at a bus stop in Eltham, South London. For a while the nation went through soul searching and changed. Things did get better. The 2012 Olympics celebrated that enlightened Britain and also marked its end. Ukip came along and shattered the liberal consensus on equalities, civil rights, justice and immigration. Good people did not fight hard enough for those shared values. And so the precious tenets passed away and the result is a brutish, broken country.

Asylum seekers, refugees, hard- working migrants, even long time settlers, breathe in the hostility in the air- even in London- and racist hatred burns the skin. And all the while we are instructed not to mention what’s happening because that is ungrateful, unfair or unpatriotic.

The noxiousness didn’t just appear. It is the polluting by-product of hard right and pathetically weak left politics, also flagrantly biased media reporting and yes, the EU referendum. It is treasonable to blame the Brexit lot for the hate fumes, but I do. Not all Brexiters were anti-immigrant and racist. But all those who hate migrants, diversity and cultural mixing voted to leave. ( This astute observation was made by Kevin McGuire associate editor of the  Daily Mirror) A substantial part of the population now believes it is entitled to express hateful feelings openly and without shame. Xenophobia is an undeniable part of the deep history of the UK. Brexit gave it a louder voice and respectability.  Those who almost murdered the teenager probably will never understand why their actions were abhorrent.

Why should they? They have been relentlessly warned about ‘floods’ of incomers bringing a  population and cultural deluge. Ahmed and others who look or sound foreign, are presumed to be dangerous, devious criminals, rapists, drug traders and or benefits looters. They apparently threaten ‘our way of life’. Some may even stamp aggressively on Easter eggs while tearful native children look on. ( I made that one up- though there is a fabricated, frenzied  story doing the rounds about Cadbury and the National Trust banning Easter Eggs in order not to offend minorities. Mrs May, so busy with international affairs, actually made a statement on this spoof panic) Every time a migrant or refugee commits crimes or cheats the system, or turns out to be a terrorist all the rest stand condemned.

Agencies which work with young and old asylum seekers and refugees have told me that verbal abuse and non-serious assaults are now completely normalised in shops, playgrounds, parks, busses and trains.  Campaigners want zero tolerance for such behaviours but realise that there is no political will to protect these lowest of the low. One woman who works with unaccompanied refugee children now finds them gripped by new mental problems acquired here, in a supposedly safe sanctuary: ‘ I have kids from Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo, all the troubled hot spots. They used to cry a lot, have problems sleeping, nightmares. Some didn’t like to be touched. But in the past three years,  several have stopped eating, talking or going out. They refuse to go to a doctor or social worker. Most of them have been shouted at on public transport or bullied at school. All their optimism has gone. We did this to them. ’  I promised not to name her or say where she works. They are all too scared to speak up.

There will be more brutality against those seeking new lives. And the powerful will stand by, pretend concern and then carry on demonising the stranger, the outsider and needy.  Reker Ahmed, was, says DCI Jane Corrigan, ‘very, very lucky not to have lost his life’. As he recovers both physically and mentally, he will, one imagines, be grateful to the medical team and God for keeping him alive  But I doubt he will feel in any way ‘lucky’.

I newspaper, 5/4/2017

 

Racism, Unspoken And Getting Worse

 

Sorry if this column makes some of you miserable or cross on the first Monday after the Christmas break. I feel weary and dejected too as I turn once more to think and write about racism in Britain. The subject divides people and these days, is seen as insolence or treachery. Tweets will fly, blogs will burn with indignation, online comments will get nastier and more menacing. I am only the messenger. Blame the Rt Hon Oliver Letwin, for setting off the latest furore.

The National Archives released papers from 1985. Among them was a note by Letwin to Margaret Thatcher, penned after the Broadwater Farm and other inner city riots. The government was alarmed by scale and fury of the uprisings; some ministers and civil servants argued that policies were needed to reduce poverty and improve opportunities for embittered, excluded black Britons. Not so Mr Letwin, who has long been considered a caring and wise Tory. Investment in black businesses, he opined,  would inevitably go to the ‘disco and drug trade’.  Furthermore, ‘riots, criminality and social disintegration are caused solely by individual characters and attitudes. So long as bad moral attitudes remain, all efforts to improve inner city life will founder’. He has now apologised and has found many apologists who have jumped up to confirm that Letwin is a fine man, who would never say anything so crass today. I am sure he would not say ITALS PREVIOUS WD anything so crassly racist today, even in a private memo.

Society has got more civilized and does not tolerate expressions of bigotry. Public discourse on race is far less vicious and malevolent than it once was. Nobody admits to being racist, presumably because the word is stained with shame. And from time to time, politicians of all parties make emotive speeches on equal opportunities for all. The prize for the best of these goes to David Cameron, who at his party conference orated thus: ‘ In our country today, even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get call backs for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names …that, in the 21st Century Britain, is disgraceful.’ It is progress of sorts.

Does this mean the country has wiped out racism, except in small, extremist circles? That we are now living in a post-racial paradise, where all of us can pick fruit off the trees without fear or favour? Of course not. Online, racism, prejudices, sexism, bigotry and group hatreds spread multiple infections, immune to all remedies. In real life too, many of us people of colour are entering an age of pessimism. It suppresses aspirations, hope and the imagination. In all institutionS, every profession, almost all workplaces, race discrimination has returned with a vengeance.

In the sixties and seventies, Roy Jenkins, Lord Lester and other influential, fair minded men and women pushed through the first race relations legislation. The laws were weak, but gave a strong message: migrants were equal citizens who would be protected by the state. But discrimination carried on. In 1981, Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw, trusted confidante of Margaret Thatcher,  appointed Lord Scarman to look into the causes of the Brixton riots. Scarman concluded that racial disadvantage, inner city decline and unaccountable, racist policing  were to blame for the ‘disposition towards violent protest’. Many of his recommendations were implemented by Thatcher’s government. You would not get such a constructive response from Cameron, who is more to the right and more of a charmer than the iron lady.

Labour in its last years in office also turned away from race equality. 9/11 made them all paranoid and focussed on Islamicist terrorism- a real and deadly threat, which has only got more deadly and real. The LibDems remain a white party. One LibDem funder told me recently: ‘ The party never reached out to the minorities. Nick Clegg and co never cared about the white poor either. I do not know a single coloured ( sic) person. No wonder we were wiped out.’

The truth is none of the parties care. Highly qualified, talented black and Asian doctors, teachers, lecturers, lawyers, journalists and artists are denied their big breaks through fortified glass ceilings. Ironically this is happening when we have more men and women of colour in the Commons and Lords than ever before. The BBC, Channel4 and most other media outlets think they have done more than enough for racial minorities and that we should be grateful. A producer before Christmas informed me that I was ‘on too much’ on BBC News. Were Polly Toynbee, Peter Hitchins, Steve Richards told off too for being ‘ on too much’?

Opportunities are better for low paid black and Asian workers and recent migrants, partly because most white Britons decline to take up these jobs. Employment rights are no longer protected and taking cases to tribunals is prohibitively expensive. Western lives are deemed much more valuable than the lives of those from the east or south. Students who strongly object to the Rhodes statue in Oxford are daily vilified for challenging white-washed imperial history. Attacks on Muslims and migrants are increasing and sympathy for the victims is waning. We, who question white male power or fight for equality and justice, are branded ‘racist and sexist’. And when riots break out, our PM denies they are about race or austerity: The protestors have a ‘twisted moral code’. Just what Letwin observed way back then.

Racism today is more invidious than it was even in the days of Thatcher, and it is harder to get any redress. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission is scandalously silent on the matter. Poor blacks and whites are pitted against each other and there is no collective movement for a fairer nation. I feel things will only get bleaker.

   The Independent, 4/1/2016

Hating the Immigrant: A National Sport

Immigration Hatred

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

 I want the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson to look me in the eye and tell me that it was a big mistake to let my people- the Ugandan Asians- into this country. A big mistake because the majority of Brits resented us coming, believed the ‘influx’ would put intolerable pressure on jobs, housing, NHS and education and corrupt the national identity. Local authorities paid for full page adverts in Ugandan newspapers asking Asians to keep out of their areas. Most of the media was maniacally opposed, same as when Jews were coming over before World War 11 and in the centuries previously. Mr Robinson is presenting a programme on BBC2 this week showing the scale of public concern about immigration. Instead of being an objective conduit, he has, in a jingoistic, right wing newspaper, slammed the Corporation for censoring anti-immigrant opinions. A big lie. These are the only views now dominating the papers and airwaves. Robinson was once an ardent Chairman of the Young Conservatives. Possibly deeply held political positions don’t just wash away when you get a top broadcasting job. If that feels like a slur, forgive me. But as an immigrant I feel slandered by the caustic populism now flaunted by respectable intellectuals and politicians.

Roger Mosey, previously a BBC executive, now Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge,  made similar observations late last year. Others are on the same warpath. They seem or care not to know the history of this eternal crisis. Here are a few of the facts gone missing in this so called debate: In 1903, Cathcart Wason, Liberal MP for Orkney and Shetland- no migrants there, even now-  asked in parliament: ‘What is the use of spending thousands of pounds on building beautiful workman’s dwellings if the places of our own workpeople, the backbone of the country, are to be taken over by the refuse and scum of other nations’? In the sixties the people and many of their leaders complained bitterly about ‘aliens’ living off benefits. Patrick Gordon Walker, Midlands Labour MP said in 1962: ‘This is a British country with British standards of behaviour. The British must come first’. Not only Cameron, and May, but Ed Milliband and Yvette Cooper too are repeating that mantra. Remember the hysterics over migration from Hong Kong when it was handed back? The way Afghani refugees were treated when they came here? Migrant hatred is part of the complicated story of this country. And so is hard won migrant love. The media surely has a duty to ensure social trust and tell the whole story.  

BBC and other journalists  have not excitedly prioritised  the majority view that the death penalty should be brought back or that paedophiles should be put away on some remote island forever. Ministers too have been leaders not followers on these issues.

Until a decade back, most Brits did not support real equality for gays. Leading media outlets presented sane arguments and aired persuasive voices, felt morally compelled to argue the case. By not pandering to democratic tyranny, they enabled the population to shed prejudices.  On immigration the BBC and others are led by right wing trendsetters on social media and encourage the tyranny. I do understand that in recession people fear the foreigner. And that Islamicism has increased those fears. But those can’t be the excuses for the pervasive nastiness directed at migrants and refugees.

Robinson is disdainful of senior BBC figures who feared a free-for-all immigration debates ‘would unleash some terrible side of the British public’. They were right. When doors are opened to objectors and neo- jingoists, responsible broadcasters must ensure fairness. They don’t. For balance, programmes should cover the concerns of immigrants too. How it leaves us feeling vulnerable and devalued. Call me Tony Hall. Let’s talk. It’s time.

According to received wisdom, those opposing migration are not racist . But if verified data is ignored, if immigrants’ voices are silenced, if the bullish majority freely maligns incomers, it is  xenophobia. The economic downturn was caused by irresponsible bankers and a dysfunctional economic model not by migration. Housing shortages and the misery of the poor, for whom I feel deeply,  is the result of government policy not the Polish carpenter or Punjabi waiter. We came, settled and became productive citizens. As did most of those who came before us. Researchers at Manchester University have found the most mixed UK neighbourhoods are the most healthy and that it is deprivation, not diversity, that adversely affects the quality of life in some urban areas. In 2012, The National Institute of Economic and Social Research found ‘no association’ between higher immigration and joblessness and that immigration was an economic stimulant.

All Britons should keep a diary for one week and note the interactions with ‘outsiders’. It’s what we all do, have to. So why this relentless hostility?

 The independent, 6th January 2014

 

 

  

Home Office Institutionally Racist

 

The Home Office is on a mission to intimidate and debase Kipling’s ‘fluttered folk and wild’ abroad and in the UK.  It is proud to be institutionally racist, very proud indeed. Has figures to show just how many bloody foreigners have been dealt with and what awaits the others. In June a new £3000 bond was imposed on visitors from ‘high risk’ nations in Asia and Africa; overseas students from those continents and Arabia too are actively discouraged from coming to our universities.  Blatantly discriminatory domestic rules have been instituted; international treaties and human rights legislation are jackbooted. The nation is dishonoured again by its keepers.

On Friday night, on BBC News, Home Office bully boys were shown rounding up dark skinned folk in specially targeted multiracial localities. In Southall, outraged Asian women  defied them, objected volubly. Some were from Southall Black Sisters, a collective which, for years, has defended gender and minority rights. I recognised some of them- grey haired now but still full of indignation and passion. In previous decades they demonstrated against virginity tests for Asian women, carried out to check if they were really brides- to- be. And again against the law which denied foreign born wives legal status for years, even those in abusive marriages. And again when the NF marched through Southall.

The scenes on TV reminded me of South Africa’s pass laws. I broke down, cried inconsolably. Before this latest officially sanctioned persecution, Home Office vans were spotted in inner city areas with nasty signs telling illegal migrants to go home. Those messages subliminally warned all people of colour not to get too comfortable, to assume we were safe. We who came to stay jumped through hoops of fire to finally gain some acceptance. But now we know it can be withdrawn. Nasty vans were not sent to areas where Australians and white South Africans hang out. The legal eagle Geoffrey Robertson or his novelist wife Kathy Lette or MP Peter Hain were not made to feel uninvited and unwanted.  When will our governments  stop pissing on non-white migrants? Will they ever? My kids look like me- I fear for them too.

Ukip’s Nigel Farage, now presenting himself as Mr nice guy, has criticised these Home Office initiatives. More bizarrely still,  the Tory strategist, Australian Lynton Crosby, has privately expressed his own doubts about the vans. This is the notorious political operator  who, in his own country, and the UK has deviously used immigration as an election doodlebug. I told him at a party how much I detested these campaigns and he listened, unmoved, blasé. So why the reservations now about the hardline Home Office tactics? Is it part of Crosby’s newly revealed cunning plans to disable Ukip? Or could it be that even these unreconstructed men sense that a line has been crossed? Now the usually inactive Equalities and Human Rights Commission is looking into these measures and their impact.

London has just tried to relive the glorious multiracial Olympics. Oh how our PM and his Etonian mates loved all that colour and pizzazz. And all the while his government forces landlords and medical staff and schools  to check passports and exclude those who can’t prove they belong. Immigration detention centres, run by private companies, treat inmates as if they are vermin. Not many white faces in there. Western Europeans have always migrated and still do, as if that is their birthright. But movement of the people from the rest of the world is a threat, a menace, even when millions are dispossessed by western geopolitical games and economic interests.

In our times, we are not permitted to call racism by its name when debating immigration. That discourse is strictly regulated. Immigration is now allegedly completely decoupled from prejudices. Furthermore, it is claimed that Britons are not ‘allowed’ to talk about immigration for fear of being branded ‘racist’. When did we not talk about the ‘problems of  immigration’? Has there been a single year when known public individuals did not express ‘brave’ views against migration or express xenophobia? Today neo-Powellite nationalists like David Goodhart stride the earth and are lauded as messiahs and the twinned Frank Field and Nicholas Soames regurgitate the messages of anti-immigration lobbyists with enviable access to the media. Britons who are fair and open-minded are appalled by  the ceaseless hostility towards incomers. It is they who daren’t speak out because of the overpowering pressure to follow the populist line. Trolls are out to get us too.

The Tories always use the race/immigration card. They don’t even pretend inclusion any more. Shawn Bailey, the Tory black, ‘street’ mascot in Downing St has been dumped;  Sayeeda Warsi is back in the ghetto. Meanwhile New Labour, even while encouraging immigration, did not defend the policy and instead assuaged small island protectionists. But the most culpable are the black and Asian MPs and Peers, an unprecedented number now in power, soon to be joined by the Doreen Lawrence. Thus far hardly any have spoken out about the Home Office travesties. Those Southall women had more guts. They could form a cross party faction and expose the racist immigration policies. Together they would be strong enough to  make an impact.  But they sit tight, treacherously let the state repeat and exceed the iniquities of the past suffered by their own people, families, possibly themselves.  I think I am going to cry again.

Independent, 5/8/2013

 

 

 

Race and the Met

Race and the Met

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

I hope Met bosses don’t go all defensive about this column or distrust my motives. Some of them have tried ( though failed) to eradicate the virus of pervasive police racism. A few took me to good lunches and provided me with extra security when I faced some frightening physical threats. So I owe them and would not malign either individuals or the force without good reason.  But having been an anti-racist activist all my adult life, I also know stories, dark secrets of black and Asian people failed or picked for special ill treatment by  Met officers, high and low.  From time to time these dank truths emerge, and the public is shocked. When will the police do more than pretend they understand and care? Their old statements of intent and good policies, just sheets of decorative wallpaper, are now frayed and fading. And, dishearteningly, contemporary promises and practices have not delivered.

This is in no way special pleading. White people are also victims of police malevolence and of hate crimes, and too often feel further punished by the criminal justice system. However, police officers rarely harbour generic prejudices against white UK nationals- though some, admittedly, do seem to loathe the Irish. The time does seem right to look again at the Met and race, since the media interviews with ex-undercover Met cop Peter Francis, who alleged that the police spied on and tried to discredit the Lawrence family and friends, Duwayne Brooks, in whose arms Stephen died, anti-racist groups and organisations monitoring racist attacks. How low can an institution get?

Predictably, the Met leadership and Home Secretary, Mayor Boris, all and sundry, have come out with their well rehearsed platitudes of disapproval, yes the same Boris who, with William Hague and others pronounced the McPherson inquiry an iniquitous ‘witch hunt’ of the noble constabulary. Some of us knew better.

I was there protesting, in 1983, with the poet Benjamin Zephaniah outside Stoke Newington Police station where a black man Colin Roach, 21, died of bullet wounds. I remember Cherry Groce, mother of eight, shot and paralyzed in 1985 by police in her home in Brixton and Cynthia Jarrett who died of a heart attack when police raided her home in Tottenham. Riots erupted and poor PC Blakelock was cruelly slain. Three innocent black men were convicted of the senseless murder and later freed.  History repeated itself when Mark Duggan, black and young, was shot dead in Tottenham in 2011 setting off the last urban riots. In 1993 I  wrote about Joy Gardener taped up and asphyxiated in front of her young son, when being arrested by immigration police. There have been many others. None of the policemen or women were held to account.  Most disturbing of all was watching Paul Condon at the McPherson inquiry- his curled contempt when giving evidence.

You see I knew of Condon in a previous incarnation. My friend Frank Crichlow, a popular Trinidadian activist in Notting Hill Gate ran the Mangrove, a community music club and restaurant . In 1988, officers answerable to Condon – then Deputy Commissioner for west London- raided the Mangrove. Pictures were taken of illegal drugs- believed to have been planted by the law enforcers- and the subsequent case was thrown out. Crichlow was awarded record damages of £50,000 but he was never himself again. Condon, though, went on to a bigger job running the Met and now sits in the Lords and denies knowledge of any of these incidents.

Discrimination against officers of colour continues in our police forces; too many  citizens of colour still suffer racist violence and abuse. I see a link between the two. The Independent recently interviewed Kevin Maxwell, the mixed race, gay Met officer who said he resigned after being intimidated by his seniors because he spoke up about the racist and homophobic behaviour of some of his colleagues. An employment tribunal upheld 44 counts of harassment. Not that long ago, Gurpal Virdi a Sikh DS won his case of discrimination and then took another case to tribunal just two years later. Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, the highest serving Muslim in the Met, left and alleged discrimination. Several members of the National Black Police Association have made similar complaints some publically and some privately to me.

The Lawrences want another enquiry- not, in my view, a wise call. Enquiries are the perfect British answer to contentious events- they go on and on, people forget, the high emotions that led to them are dissipated. (Do you even remember there is a Chilcot Iraq inquiry still to report? )

What we need instead is perhaps a judge gathering all the evidence already in the public domain  of police collusion with or indifference to racist attacks, complaints made by black and Asian coppers, undercover operations against families and groups seeking justice, and those in charge when some of the worst cases surfaced. It should cover the period from the eighties to now, be produced fast and in clear, unambiguous language. And then a parliamentary committee should summon the Met leadership and to ask why, what and when, with future meetings scheduled in to make sure the force is operating fairly, effectively and with integrity. It can be done. And must for the sake of policing and the people of London.

 

 

 

From: Night Lawyer
Sent: 30 June 2013 16:58
To: Laurence Earle
Subject: RE: yasmin copy for legal pls

 

Hi,

 

Please note the legal marks in red below.

 

Many thanks.

 

Lois

 

From: Laurence Earle
Sent: 30 June 2013 15:38
To: Night Lawyer
Subject: yasmin copy for legal pls

 

 

 

From: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown [mailto:y.alibhai-brown@ntlworld.com]
Sent: 30 June 2013 15:38
To: Laurence Earle
Subject: Met and race

 

Race and the Met

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

I hope Met bosses don’t go all defensive about this column or distrust my motives. Some of them have tried ( though failed) to eradicate the virus of pervasive police racism. A few took me to good lunches and provided me with extra security when I faced some frightening physical threats. So I owe them and would not malign either individuals or the force without good reason. But having been an anti-racist activist all my adult life, I also know stories, dark secrets of black and Asian people failed or picked for special ill treatment by Met officers, high and low. From time to time these dank truths emerge, and the public is shocked. When will the police do more than pretend they understand and care? Their old statements of intent and good policies, just sheets of decorative wallpaper, are now frayed and fading. And, dishearteningly, contemporary promises and practices have not delivered.

This is in no way special pleading. White people are also victims of police malevolence and of hate crimes, and too often feel further punished by the criminal justice system. However, police officers rarely harbour generic prejudices against white UK nationals- though some, admittedly, do seem to loathe the Irish. The time does seem right to look again at the Met and race, since the media interviews with ex-undercover Met cop Peter Francis, who alleged that the police spied on and tried to discredit the Lawrence family and friends, Duwayne Brooks, in whose arms Stephen died, anti-racist groups and organisations monitoring racist attacks. IF THIS IS SO, how low can an institution get?

Predictably, the Met leadership and Home Secretary, Mayor Boris, all and sundry, have come out with their well rehearsed platitudes of disapproval, yes the same Boris who, with William Hague and others pronounced the McPherson inquiry an iniquitous ‘witch hunt’ of the noble constabulary. Some of us knew better.

I was there protesting, in 1983, with the poet Benjamin Zephaniah outside Stoke Newington Police station where a black man Colin Roach, 21, died of bullet wounds. I remember Cherry Groce, mother of eight, shot and paralyzed in 1985 by police in her home in Brixton and Cynthia Jarrett who died of a heart attack when police raided her home in Tottenham. Riots erupted and poor PC Blakelock was cruelly slain. Three innocent black men were convicted of the senseless murder and later freed. History repeated itself when Mark Duggan, black and young, was shot dead in Tottenham in 2011 setting off the last urban riots. In 1993 I wrote about Joy Gardener taped up and RESTRAINED [DELETE IN BRACKETS asphyxiated] in front of her young son, when being arrested by immigration police. SHE COLLAPSED AND DIED 4 DAYS LATER. There have been many others. None of the policemen or women were held to account. Most disturbing of all was watching Paul Condon at the McPherson inquiry- his curled contempt when giving evidence.

You see I knew of Condon in a previous incarnation. My friend Frank Crichlow, a popular Trinidadian activist in Notting Hill Gate ran the Mangrove, a community music club and restaurant . In 1988, officers answerable to Condon – then Deputy Commissioner for west London- RAIDED [DELETE IN BRACKETS smashed up END DELETE] the Mangrove. Pictures were taken of illegal drugs WHICH WERE – believed to have been planted. [DELETE IN BRACKETS by the law enforcers] [DELETE- and END DELETE] The SUBSEQUENT case AGAINST CRICHLOW was thrown out. Crichlow was awarded record damages of £50,000 but he was never himself again. Condon, though, went on to a bigger job running the Met and now sits in the Lords and denies BEING ACCOUNTABLE [DELETE IN BRACKETS any wrong doing, ever END DELETE].

Discrimination against officers of colour continues in our police forces; too many citizens of colour still suffer racist violence and abuse. I see a link between the two. The Independent recently interviewed Kevin Maxwell, the mixed race, gay Met officer who said he resigned after being intimidated by his seniors because he spoke up about the racist and homophobic behaviour of some of his colleagues. An employment tribunal upheld 44 counts of harassment. Not that long ago, Gurpal Virdi a Sikh DS won his case of discrimination and then took another case to tribunal just two years later. Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, the highest serving Muslim in the Met, left and alleged discrimination. Several members of the National Black Police Association have made similar complaints some publically and some privately to me.

The Lawrences want another enquiry- not, in my view, a wise call. Enquiries are the perfect British answer to contentious events- they go on and on, people forget, the high emotions that led to them are dissipated. (Do you even remember there is a Chilcot Iraq inquiry still to report? )

What we need instead is perhaps a judge gathering all the evidence already in the public domain of police collusion with or indifference to racist attacks, complaints made by black and Asian coppers, undercover operations against families and groups seeking justice, and those in charge when some of the worst cases surfaced. It should cover the period from the eighties to now, be produced fast and in clear, unambiguous language. And then a parliamentary committee should summon the Met leadership and to ask why, what and when, with future meetings scheduled in to make sure the force is operating fairly, effectively and with integrity. It can be done. And must for the sake of policing and the people of London.

 

 

 

From: Night Lawyer
Sent: 30 June 2013 16:58
To: Laurence Earle
Subject: RE: yasmin copy for legal pls

 

Hi,

 

Please note the legal marks in red below.

 

Many thanks.

 

Lois

 

From: Laurence Earle
Sent: 30 June 2013 15:38
To: Night Lawyer
Subject: yasmin copy for legal pls

 

 

 

I hope Met bosses don’t go all defensive about this column or distrust my motives. Some of them have tried ( though failed) to eradicate the virus of pervasive police racism. A few took me to good lunches and provided me with extra security when I faced some frightening physical threats. So I owe them and would not malign either individuals or the force without good reason. But having been an anti-racist activist all my adult life, I also know stories, dark secrets of black and Asian people failed or picked for special ill treatment by Met officers, high and low. From time to time these dank truths emerge, and the public is shocked. When will the police do more than pretend they understand and care? Their old statements of intent and good policies, just sheets of decorative wallpaper, are now frayed and fading. And, dishearteningly, contemporary promises and practices have not delivered.

This is in no way special pleading. White people are also victims of police malevolence and of hate crimes, and too often feel further punished by the criminal justice system. However, police officers rarely harbour generic prejudices against white UK nationals- though some, admittedly, do seem to loathe the Irish. The time does seem right to look again at the Met and race, since
the media interviews with ex-undercover Met cop Peter Francis, who alleged that the police spied on and tried to discredit the Lawrence family and friends, Duwayne Brooks, in whose arms Stephen died, anti-racist groups and organisations monitoring racist attacks. If this is true, one wonders how low can an institution get?

Predictably, the Met leadership and Home Secretary, Mayor Boris, all and sundry, have come out with their well rehearsed platitudes of disapproval, yes the same Boris who, with William Hague and others pronounced the McPherson inquiry an iniquitous ‘witch hunt’ of the noble constabulary. Some of us knew better.

I was there protesting, in 1983, with the poet Benjamin Zephaniah outside Stoke Newington Police station where a black man Colin Roach, 21, died of bullet wounds. I remember Cherry Groce, mother of eight, shot and paralyzed in 1985 by police in her home in Brixton and Cynthia Jarrett who died of a heart attack when police raided her home in Tottenham. Riots erupted and poor PC Blakelock was cruelly slain. Three innocent black men were convicted of the senseless murder and later freed. History repeated itself when Mark Duggan, black and young, was shot dead in Tottenham in 2011 setting off the last urban riots. In 1993 I wrote about Joy Gardener taped up and restrained in front of her young son, when being arrested by immigration police.  There have been many others. None of the policemen or women were held to account. Most disturbing of all was watching Paul Condon at the McPherson inquiry- his curled contempt when giving evidence.

You see I knew of Condon in a previous incarnation. My friend Frank Crichlow, a popular Trinidadian activist in Notting Hill Gate ran the Mangrove, a community music club and restaurant . In 1988, officers answerable to Condon – then Deputy Commissioner for west London- raided the Mangrove. Pictures were taken of illegal drugs which were believed to have been planted by the law enforcers. The subsequent case against Crichlow was thrown out. Crichlow was awarded record damages of £50,000 but he was never himself again. Condon, though, went on to a bigger job running the Met and now sits in the Lords and denies knowledge of any of these incidents.

Discrimination against officers of colour continues in our police forces; too many citizens of colour still suffer racist violence and abuse. I see a link between the two. The Independent recently interviewed Kevin Maxwell, the mixed race, gay Met officer who said he resigned after being intimidated by his seniors because he spoke up about the racist and homophobic behaviour of some of his colleagues. An employment tribunal upheld 44 counts of harassment. Not that long ago, Gurpal Virdi a Sikh DS won his case of discrimination and then took another case to tribunal just two years later. Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, the highest serving Muslim in the Met, left and alleged discrimination. Several members of the National Black Police Association have made similar complaints some publically and some privately to me.

The Lawrences want another enquiry- not, in my view, a wise call. Enquiries are the perfect British answer to contentious events- they go on and on, people forget, the high emotions that led to them are dissipated. (Do you even remember there is a Chilcot Iraq inquiry still to report? )

What we need instead is perhaps a judge gathering all the evidence already in the public domain of police collusion with or indifference to racist attacks, complaints made by black and Asian coppers, undercover operations against families and groups seeking justice, and those in charge when some of the worst cases surfaced. It should cover the period from the eighties to now, be produced fast and in clear, unambiguous language. And then a parliamentary committee should summon the Met leadership and to ask why, what and when, with future meetings scheduled in to make sure the force is operating fairly, effectively and with integrity. It can be done. And must for the sake of policing and the people of London.

The Independent 1/7/2013